To the contrary

South Carolina state retirement system not serving retirees

Special to The HeraldJanuary 17, 2014 

It has been revealed that the South Carolina Retirement System Investment Commission has been failing to serve the interests of the retirees of South Carolina. This pension board pays the highest percentage of fees in the country, which ultimately could cost both retirees and taxpayers.

Last year alone, South Carolina spent $420 million in fees, which is three-times the national average. These fees, say the commissioners, are to have higher quality investments that will help the state. However, the commission’s results are poor – regularly performing in the bottom 20 percent of public pensions in terms of performance.

This lack of judgment and oversight in the Commission is leaving South Carolinians with the bill. If these troubles continue, South Carolina’s retirees will be stuck with pensions smaller than they were promised, and current retirees will have to pay more for the same benefits.

Finally, South Carolina’s $16 billion in unfunded liabilities will continue to grow. The source of these problems is an unworkable structure and lack of oversight on the Investment Commission. The commissioners, especially Chairman Reynolds Williams, have absolute control over the nearly $27 billion dollars.

The commission operates independently of the state treasurer, governor or any other body that could bring some valuable oversight to their actions. We need the Senate Finance Committee to grow the voice of the people by passing serious and meaningful reforms to the commission.

State senators need to understand how unaccountable this pension board is to the people of South Carolina. Certainly, they would not charge customers of their own businesses three times the average price for an inferior product. Therefore, they should extend the same courtesy to the hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians who are dependent on the performance of the state’s pension fund. Only when members of the Senate Finance Committee support real reforms will South Carolinians finally get relief from the commission’s irresponsible investments.

Bob Woodard is a resident of Rock Hill.

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